Flame and Shadow

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Chapter 39

When I opened my eyes, all I saw was bright light. It wasn’t a heavenly light or anything, but had the headsplitting intensity of fluorescent bulbs. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I was lying in a bed in the medical center. What just happened? I thought, sitting up.

“OOOHHHHH YEAH! I just took a beating!” My body reminded me, and I flopped back onto the mattress. Ow. That guy was really good. He certainly kicked my butt. Wait…I was still alive, though. I wonder why he spared me? I thought that Tsalderek agents would jump on any chance to kill us Ircabim. Perhaps this one was different, somehow.

I lay still for a few minutes, before I got bored. I would make a horrible sick person. Despite my injuries, I slowly, one inch at a time, pulled myself out of bed and onto my feet. I was relieved to find that I was still wearing my normal clothes, and not some humiliating hospital gown. They had removed my shoes and socks, though. I found my footwear on a chair near the bed. The process was highly painful, but I managed to don them very sluggishly, and head out of the room.

I wonder where Kyle went. I hadn’t seen him since he left after giving me my sneakers. I hope it wasn’t something I said. Well, I’d try to talk to him later. First, I wanted to get some answers. Whenever I needed some help with serious questions, I went to Todd. He always knew what to say to make everything make sense. How did he get to be so smart?

Well, now was a good time to talk to him. Maybe he could help me understand everything that was going on. I limped down to the chapel, and headed for Todd’s office. My walking quickly improved on the trip, and by the time I reached the chapel, I was no longer limping. My face and stomach still hurt, though.

When I entered the room, I saw that Todd was not in. He must be a very busy man, because it seemed like every time I went to visit him, he wasn’t around. I turned to wait outside, when my eye noticed something on the chaplain’s desk. Ordinarily I wasn’t one to be snooping around but…what the heck.

The word that had caught my eye was Nephilim. That was a word that we used to refer to the offspring of humans and fallen angels, different from the Ircabim, or children of humans and holy angels. Tsalderek called us Nephilim, as they didn’t believe that holy angels could interbreed with humans. They used it as a derogatory term, so why was there a paper on Todd’s desk that would talk about Nephilim?

I examined it more closely. It was a handwritten entry in a notebook of sorts, presumably Todd’s. Something seemed wrong about reading it, but I was drawn to it, I couldn’t help myself. The very first sentence captivated me, and I read everything that it said.

Are we Nephilim?

I’ve done extensive research through Biblical literature, traditional theories, and historical analyses. Other than our own word-of-mouth traditions, I can find no evidence giving credibility to the idea that we are descended from a holy angel. All accounts seem to indicate that the only angelic-human offspring were from fallen angels; or Nephilim.

This prompted me to do further research. Eventually, I came across an ancient text, originally written as a scroll. It claimed that the founders of Nahalore were, in fact, born of the union between a fallen angel and human woman. There is another historical writing, a previously unknown work of Josephus. He also stated that to be the case.

Is there even any such thing as “Ircabim”? Are we all really Nephilim? What does that mean for our destiny, as well as that of the human race? I haven’t told anyone. Perhaps this should stay with me, so as not to cause a widespread panic. Or maybe I should tell everyone the truth. I don’t know. I’m still seeking God about this.

I reread the entry multiple times. It’s impossible, right? We aren’t all evil…are we? My head swam, and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Somehow, deep down, I knew it was true. Why the heck did Todd leave this sitting out on his desk if he didn’t want people to know about it? Or maybe… he did…

I didn’t know what to do. I felt faint, as the shocking revelation weakened my resolve enough for the physical trauma yesterday to overtake me. Stumbling backward out of the office, my body wanted to shut down, but I wouldn’t let it. I had to get out of there. I didn’t know where I would go, or what I would do, but I couldn’t stay in Nahalore. For a long time, I had doubted the rightness of their ways and teachings, but I stayed anyway. I believed that, even though they were wrong in a few things, they had the right purpose overall. If that prophecy was true, I was going to try my best to live up to it.

Well, now everything’s been shot to pot. I wonder if anything that I believe is actually true. Maybe I’m a Nephilim too, but I didn’t want to be a part of the organization any more. What kind of “peace” could possibly come from a rule by Nephilim? Domination, maybe. I had to stop them. I couldn’t just stand by, knowing the truth, and not do something about it. Maybe the destiny of the prophesied “Fiery One” was to prevent the Nephilim from accomplishing their goals all along.

As I hurried out of the chapel, I considered what I would do. I didn’t know any life outside Nahalore. Heck, I probably couldn’t even find the nearest town. I had to try, though. I couldn’t stay any longer. Then, my mind went to Josie, Kyle, Mahsa, and Todd. Not everyone in the organization was evil, or even unpleasant. If I left, I’d be abandoning all of them.

Not if I left, when I left. There was something burning inside of me, telling me I had to move on. It was the same feeling as the one that told me to go on the mission. There was no logical explanation for it, but this silent voice was something that must be followed.

I rapidly headed for the south side of town. After the destruction of the mansion by Teklos, Josie and I had been moved to a little camp which was located there. If I could find her and explain the reasons for my departure, I’m sure she’d understand. When I reached my destination, there was no one to be seen. Where was she?

I had no time to waste. It was important for me to get out while I could. Looking around quickly, I spotted some paper and writing utensils. I grabbed a blank page and a pencil, and quickly scribbled a note:

Josie, I have to go away for a while. I promise I’ll be back. Please take care of yourself. Everything will be OK. I’ll always think of you as my little sister, and nothing will change that.

I’ll see you later!

I prepared to stash my short but sweet note on Josie’s pillow where she’d be sure to see it, when I heard a voice from behind me.

“What are you doing?” It asked sharply.

My heart jumped, and I turned to see who was there.

“Oh, Doshi, Hi. Um…I was just going to give this note to Josie...um…because I can’t find her.”


“Oh, by the way! Have you seen Kyle? I can’t find him either!”

The young man tilted his head slightly.

“Huh, didn’t you hear? Kyle’s disappeared.”

“Disappeared? Whaddaya mean?” I demanded.

“No one’s seen any trace of him. It’s possible he was the latest victim of the kidnapper.”

No…Kyle…he was such an innocent and gentle guy. I shuddered to think of what might happen to him. Running away from Nahalore would have to take second priority now. I had to rescue Kyle first. He had already done the same for me, one. It was time to return the favor.

“I’m going to find him. Thank you, Doshi.”

With that, I ran out of the area, toward the exit tunnel.

“Sera…your note…”

Oh yeah! I quickly backtracked.

“Ah…yeah. Thanks. Sorry, I was just getting ahead of myself-“

“I can deliver it for you, the next time I see Josie.” He offered, extending his hand.

I immediately slapped the small page into his hand.

“Thanks Doshi. You’re the best.”

Then, I was on my way again. Maybe the organization as a whole was screwed up, but there were some really great people here. I hated to leave them, and I’d hate even more to fight them one day.

Several hours later, I found myself wandering through the forest. I’ve really got to start acknowledging my flaws and making different choices. I get lost so dang easily. As I walked, I munched on a granola bar. At least I had enough foresight to pack some food this time. I had grabbed an entire box, and used it as fuel for my exploration. As long as I could keep from getting snagged by Doc Slenderman, everything should go OK.

I had no idea how long I’d been searching, but I still hadn’t bumped into any kidnappers. I guess that’s good, but I really needed to find Kyle. Then…I did. I spotted his white and purple uniform in the undergrowth off to the side of the path.

“Kyle?” I called. “Kyle, are you alright?”

There was no response, so I sprinted over to where I saw him.

“Kyle, KYLE?”

When I moved aside the stiff green foliage, I knew the worst had happened. His skin was pale white, and his body was twisted in an unnatural position. My throat tightened, and my heart fell to my ankles.

“No…” I whispered, and clambered beside my friend, shaking him by the shoulders. “Kyle, you can’t...you can’t die…you never…did anything wrong to anyone.”

Then, I burst into tears. Kyle didn’t deserve this. How could anyone do this to him? I was overcome with sorrow. He had always been on my side. For six years, it was just him and me against the world. He was my closest friend in the world, even if I didn’t understand him sometimes. Now, he was gone.

I pressed my face against his shoulder, and sobbed again. Nahalore suddenly seemed a little bit darker than it had before. If there was any chance of me changing my mind before, it was gone now. That Doc Slenderman…

I looked up from Kyle’s body, with eyes full of fury. I was no medical professional, but I could tell that my friend hadn’t been drained of blood. The doctor didn’t even do any experiments on him. He murdered him…just for fun! Then I remembered what he had said, that he was an Ircabim. He was an insider from Nahalore, and he claimed to know me. He also claimed that someday he would rule the earth with the other Nephilim. Well, not if I had anything to say about it. My resolve to stop the Nephilim grew stronger.

There was nothing more that I could do for Kyle, so I continued on. Everything we had done together ran through my mind as I walked. Maybe I was a Nephilim, but I wasn’t one of them. I refuse to play by their rules, or accomplish their agenda any more. I would put an end to this. That’s what fire does, right? It burns, until it’s gone.

I hiked for quite some time, without seeing anything familiar. I no longer knew where I was going, but I didn’t stop. When I was beginning to believe that I was completely alone in this wilderness, I heard a noise behind me. Instantly, I ignited the flames in my hand, and turned to face whoever was approaching.

It was a very tall man. He wore a black bandana on his head and a matching trench coat. Underneath was a familiar looking uniform. Tsalderek.

“What do you want?” I demanded.

The man simply smiled at me.

“I was going to ask you the same thing. What’s a Nephilim like you doing way out here?”

Despite the emotions that were clouding my mind and distorting my voice, I managed to say:

“I want to shut down Nahalore, for good.”

My acquaintance nodded.

“Well, Sera. You’ve come to the right place.”

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